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Ultrasound-Guided Vacuum-Assisted Core Biopsy

An ultrasound-guided biopsy may be recommended if your mammogram or ultrasound exam shows an area of concern. Gwinnett Medical Center radiologists use ultrasound to guide them while taking small samples of tissue from the area of concern.

Some common reasons for this procedure are:

  • A suspicious solid mass
  • A distortion in the structure of the breast tissue
  • An area of abnormal tissue change

How Should I Prepare for the Procedure?

An ultrasound-guided breast biopsy is minimally invasive. Whenever the skin is penetrated, there is a risk of bleeding. For this reason, if you are taking aspirin or a blood thinner, your physician may advise you to stop before the procedure. You may want to have a relative or friend come with you to lend support or drive you home afterward.

What Can I Expect?

Prior to the procedure, a nurse will meet with you to complete an assessment, explain the procedure and provide the appropriate paperwork. The radiologist then meets with you to answer any questions and has you sign consent forms for the procedure.

This procedure is performed using ultrasound guidance with you lying on your back on a padded table. Warm gel is placed on your breast as the technologist scans to locate the area of concern.

The radiologist will then clean the area with an antiseptic and inject local anesthetic into your breast to numb it. The radiologist will make a small cut in the skin, insert the biopsy needle and take small samples of the tissue from the area of concern. The radiologist will then place a small clip (tissue marker) in the breast to mark the place where the tissue was removed. The clip is safe and cannot be felt in the breast. It will not move. It does not affect MRI and will not set off alarms at the airport.

After the clip is placed, the breast will be placed in compression for approximately 10 minutes to stop any bleeding. The nurse will then place small steristrips (like tape) over the incision. No stitches are needed.

A light compression post-procedure mammogram will be taken to ensure the clip location and visualization of the biopsy site. The tissue samples will then be sent to the lab/pathology to be examined.

The nurse will review the discharge instructions with you before you leave. A copy of the discharge instructions will be provided for you to take home and refer to. Download our Breast Biopsy Pre- and Post-Procedure Instructions to learn more about what you can expect with this procedure. 

What Are the Benefits and Risks?


  • It’s less invasive than surgical biopsy, leaves little or no scarring and can be performed in less than an hour.
  • It reliably provides tissue samples that can show whether a breast lump is benign or malignant.
  • Compared with stereotactic breast biopsy, the ultrasound method is faster and avoids the need for ionizing radiation exposure.
  • The radiologist can follow the motion of the biopsy needle as it moves through the breast tissue.
  • It allows evaluation of lumps under the arm or near the chest wall, which are hard to reach with stereotactic biopsy.
  • The procedure is less expensive than stereotactic biopsy.
  • Recovery time is brief and patients can soon resume their usual activities.


  • Because the vacuum-assisted device removes slightly larger pieces of tissue than other needle types, there is a risk of bleeding and forming a hematoma (a collection of blood) at the biopsy site. The risk, however, appears to be less than 1% of patients.
  • An occasional patient has significant discomfort, which can be controlled with non-prescription pain medication.
  • Any procedure that penetrates the skin carries a risk of infection.
  • A biopsy of tissue located deep within the breast carries a slight risk that the needle will pass through the chest wall, allowing air around the lung that could collapse the lung, but this is a rare occurrence.

Who Interprets the Results and How Do I Get Them?

A pathologist examines the removed specimen, makes a final diagnosis and sends a signed report to your primary care or referring physician, who will discuss the results with you.

If you would like to schedule an appointment, please call 678-312-3444.